Historically, IT was seen as a cost center, but modern Information Technology can be one of the company’s main business enablers. Bringing IT into the C-suite discussion is more important than ever.
Here are three ways IT and C-suite can align on technologies and enhance mobility, agility, and security.
Empower IT to be consultative
The rise of cloud services and Shadow IT has shown businesses that computing needs can be satisfied faster and cheaper outside of the IT department. So, how does IT remain relevant to the business? By deeply understanding business needs and outcomes to deliver a superior user experience that integrates security, compliance and privacy. And, increasingly leveraging technologies to “automate the mundane” while presenting challenges and opportunities to business decision makers.
Machine learning can now analyze workers’ online behaviour to spot trends. It can then identify and act on malicious user behaviour and anomalies in anticipation of imminent fraud, compromise or misuse. Technologies including virtualization and containerization protect apps, data and desired policies, whether stored in a secured data-centre, cloud or mobilized.
Today’s C-suite must empower IT professionals to be constantly taking a forward-looking approach to the business, the workforce, and the IT landscape, seeking advantage through new and optimized solutions. They should be tasked with looking at least three to five years down the line, and asking: what’s needed? What will lead to cost reductions, business agility, and more data-driven decisions?
Consulting at the business level, the C-suite will get more value out of the IT department, and IT will take on a more sophisticated role while leaving the mundane tasks to autonomous technology.
Focus IT strategies on primary business objectives
For an effective technology strategy to be employed, IT and C-suite must align on where IT can support key business objectives, and where it realistically cannot. This ensures strategies are not simply implemented – but that they also have a viable maintenance plan throughout the information lifecycle.
One topic sure to be on business executives’ minds is cloud strategy. Where can the cloud supply better apps for customers or faster service delivery, and how much cloud is too much cloud?IT can help determine service level agreements, third-party risk mitigations, lifecycle alignment with regulations and how to ensure visibility and control across clouds, between clouds and in hybrid models.
With these critical insights and services from IT, the C-suite can better leverage the promise that clouds bring while avoiding the unpleasant and expensive surprises of impetuous cloud migrations.
Establish C-suite security strategy supported by IT
A smart security strategy is about striking the right balance for employees and employers, and obtaining alignment between top-level executives, the IT department, legal and the HR department. Consider a 2017 survey by Oxford Economics and Citrix that found only 20 per cent of Canadian companies had a cohesive and integrated mobile strategy in place, demonstrating a gap in organizational security policy.
IT departments are updating legacy security strategies to better balance the mobile workforce, the risk of cyberthreats, and the desire for seamless user experiences. Some components to consider include: Is the entire organization using a unified and secured workspace that can be personalized to each worker’s role? Are the right processes, training, education and feedback programs in place to help employees understand security effectiveness? Finally, is user experience being prioritized so employees don’t bypass protocols or use outside devices and services to get the job done when they’re not risk-appropriate?
While IT can devise, maintain and enforce security policies, it is up to the C-suite to ensure that the organizational culture delivers on the promises of security, privacy and compliance. IT and top-level executives must not only institute a comprehensive strategy – they must live it and lead the way through personal example. This will foster a security-first mindset throughout an organization, while not leaving user experience, mobility or flexibility as an oversight.
These three tactics ensure IT leaders and C-suite executives stay in active communication concerning technology, security and mobility. While a “cloud-first, mobile-first mandate” is critical, maintaining defensible security and a superior user experience are paramount to business success.
By Kurt Roemer, Chief Security Strategist, Citrix.
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